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Taylor v. Butler

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 29, 2017

BRYAN M. TAYLOR Petitioner,



         Bryan M. Taylor (Petitioner), proceeding pro se, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (hereinafter § 2254). He challenges his 1999 conviction in Saline County, Illinois for fifteen various felony counts related to the sexual assault of two female college students. (Doc. 15, Ex. 21, p. 13). He contends his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise an argument for ineffective assistance of trial counsel on direct appeal. (Doc. 1). Based on the following, Petitioner's writ of habeas corpus pursuant to § 2254 is DENIED.


         In March 1999 at approximately 12:15 p.m., two female college students were walking on a hiking trail in Illinois when an armed man in a ski mask began running towards them. The man ordered the women to lie on their stomachs in a clearing, tied their hands above their heads with plastic ties, and forced each of them to perform oral sex on him. One of the plastic ties had the word “vision” printed on it. The assailant fondled the victims' breasts, sucked their toes and breasts, licked their anuses, kissed them, forced them to kiss each other, and then ejaculated on the back of one of the victims. (Doc. 15, Ex. 2, p. 2).

         The State of Illinois (the State), charged Petitioner with five-counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, three-counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, two-counts of aggravated unlawful restraint, and five-counts of aggravated battery for the attack. (Doc. 15, Ex. 21, p. 13).

         At Petitioner's trial, the State presented evidence Petitioner's car was parked in the hiking trail's parking lot at the time of the attack; plastic ties with the word “vision” on them were found at Petitioner's home 3.8 miles away from the hiking trail; time records indicated Petitioner took a lunch break from 11:09 a.m. to 2:34 p.m. the day of the attack; and DNA extracted from the victims matched Petitioner's DNA profile. (Doc. 15, Ex. 2, pp. 2-3).

         The jury convicted Petitioner of all counts and he received an aggregate sentence of fifty-one years imprisonment:

nine years' imprisonment for each of the aggravated criminal sexual assaults, to be served consecutively, six years on each aggravated criminal sexual abuse, to be served consecutively to each other and concurrently with all other sentences, and four years on each remaining count, again to be served consecutively to each other but concurrently with all other sentences.

Id. at p. 1.

         Petitioner filed a direct appeal, contending (1) he was denied a fair trial because the trial judge was biased; (2) the DNA testing was so unreliable that it could not support a guilty verdict; and (3) consecutive sentences are unconstitutional. Id. at p. 4. The Appellate Court of Illinois for the Fifth District denied Petitioner's appeal. Id. at pp. 1-9. Petitioner filed a Petition for Leave to Appeal (PLA) to the Illinois Supreme Court. (Doc. 15, Ex. 19, pp. 91-110). He asserted the same arguments presented on direct appeal and, in addition, contended his appellate counsel was ineffective. Id. at p. 93. The Illinois Supreme Court denied the PLA. (Doc. 15, Ex. 20, p. 1).

         Petitioner then filed a post-conviction petition under Illinois' Post-Conviction Hearing Act, 725 ILCS 5/122-1. He argued, in part, that his direct appeal counsel was ineffective for failing to raise a claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel. (Doc. 15, Ex. 20, pp. 2-27). The circuit court denied the petition and Petitioner appealed. Petitioner's appointed post-conviction appellate counsel filed a motion to withdraw as counsel on the ground the appeal lacked merit. The appellate court granted the counsel's motion and affirmed the circuit court's judgment. (Doc. 15, Ex. 21, p. 1). Petitioner then filed a PLA to the Illinois Supreme Court, which the court denied. (Doc. 15, Ex. 21, pp. 24-34).

         Petitioner filed the instant § 2254 petition, arguing his direct appeal counsel was ineffective. (Doc. 1).

         Applicable Law

         28 U.S.C. § 2254 permits persons in custody pursuant to a state court judgment to bring a petition for a writ of habeas corpus “on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). Before a federal court can entertain a petition brought under § 2254, principles of comity mandate a petitioner first give the state an opportunity to address his constitutional claims by “invoking one complete round of the State's established appellate review process.” O'Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 845 (1999). Otherwise, the claims are procedurally defaulted and he cannot later raise them in a § 2254 petition. Weddington v. Zatecky, 721 F.3d 456, 465 (7th Cir. 2013).

         In addition, federal courts generally cannot grant habeas relief with respect to any claim already adjudicated on the merits in state proceedings. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d). Two exceptions arise where the state's adjudication:

(1) resulted in a decision that was contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law, as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or (2) resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the State court proceeding.



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